Friday, December 31, 2010

Moby Solangi Part ll Katrina and the dolphins

Marine Life Oceanarium, owned by Moby Solangi, was located right on the coast of Gulfport Mississippi. Opened in 1956, Marine Life had seen its share of hurricanes. But the fact was, the facility was old and in need of major renovation. Solangi felt that since his facility had survived Camile, it would do fine with Katrina. The day before the storm, Moby had 6 of his 14 dolphins moved 6 miles inland to 2 different hotel swimming pools. He sent 8 of 26 Sea Lions to ride the storm out at a trainers home, and moved his exotic birds to Florida by Truck. He and his staff left behind 8 dolphins, a harbor seal, and many sea lions behind to ride out the storm at Marine Life, alone. On the morning of Aug. 29 2005, Gulfport was  battered by Katrina, A nearly 30 foot storm Surge, 55 foot sea waves, and 120mph winds. Beachfront neighborhoods were leveled and flooding went 6 to 12 miles inland up and down the entire Mississippi coast. 90% of the buildings along the Gulfport/Biloxi coastline was wiped out, including Marine Life.

Marine Life Dolphin swimming in hotel swimming pool.

  Why did Moby Solangi wait till the day before the storm to take action for the animals? With the eye of the storm being South of the mouth of the Mississippi, the fact that Gulfport was to the east of the storm, and Katrina's size and power should have been enough for Solangi and his team to act much sooner. Every hurricane is different, and although Marine Life had survived many storms in the past, each storm should be treated as a threat.
 Instead of moving all the animals, Solangi decided to only move a few, they say they did not have the time to move them all. The 6 dolphins that were moved to local swimming pools are: Tessie (31), Cherie (20), Brewer (9), Katelyn (7), Jonah (6), and Cayenne (2..we will talk about her soon). These dolphins were located in the outdoor Bay pool. I guess the staff thought they were at the most risk in the storm. The rest of the dolphins were moved to the 30 foot deep main tank. These Dolphins are Jill (40),  Kelly (31), Jackie (31), Tamra (21), Michelle (20), Toni (17),  Noah (6), and Elijah (4). And although Marine Life staff felt that the animals left behind would be just fine, no one stayed with them (which was a good thing in the end).

Marine Life dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico
   Once the storm was over workers rushed to the park to check on the animals. They waded through water, mud, and piles of rubble to get to the facility. They expected to find dead animals, but they found nothing. There was no animals at all. The 8 dolphins, 1 harbor seal, and 18 sea lions left behind, were no where to be found. Twelve days after the storm the missing dolphins were found in the gulf of Mexico. Amazingly, they were all together, alive, and happy to see there trainers. Some had injuries from their "adventure" (I think Nightmare is a better word), all of them had lost weight, were extremely hungry and in need of medical care. The trainers visited the dolphins 3 times a day feeding, examine, and training them three times a day. It took a week to rescue all 8 dolphins. All the Marine Life animals were moved to temporary facilities until the owners of Marine Life could figure out there next move. You can read the full IMMS story here. 
Marine Life after the storm. The dolphins were left in the
tank in the middle of the picture.

 But there is an issue with this story. If there was 14 dolphins at Marine Life, 6 of those were moved inland and 8 of those were left behind and all found in the Gulf of Mexico...what baby dolphin was found in a muddy pool at a near by golf course? See Story here. Marine Life had two young dolphins Elijah, who was left behind, but was said to be rescued in the gulf, and Cayenne, a dolphin IMMS had rescued the year before, after she was stranded, who was moved to a local pool. Who was the dolphin found on the golf course?

Sea Lion from Marine Life found dead on the street of Gulfport
  After the rescue was over Moby Solangi was called a Hero, for saving the very animals he left behind. Why? It was his job to rescue his animals. Actually it was his job to make sure they were never in harms away, the least he could do is rescue them. The memory of the Harbor seal that was never found, and the 5 sea lions that were killed or found dead quickly faded and all the buzz was about the amazing rescue of these "beloved animals". Loved so much, they were left behind. Don't take this wrong, I am so very thankful these dolphins made it out alive. These are the very dolphins Eric spent hours a day playing with. We were both over joyed when we found out they were OK. But I can't help but wonder, what would have been said about Solangi if the dolphins didn't live or were never found? Would the media had then asked why he left them in a tank yards from the ocean? Or would it still just been a "tragic loss", as the 5 seal lions and the harbor seal were? If the building would have caved in, before the tide came up, and the dolphins were trapped and drowned, would Moby Solangi still be a hero? I'm sure Zack (26), TC (21), Splash (19), Kiana (25) and Parker (17), the 5 Sea Lions that lost their lives, wish they had had a hero to save them.


In December of 2005 Moby Solangi was fired as president of Marine Life and 17 dolphins owned by the facility (some of Marine Life's dolphins were on loan at the time of the storm) were sold to the new Atlantis Facility.   On Jan 1 2006 15 dolphins belonging to Marine Animal Production (MAP) were sent to Atlantis Resort. These dolphins are Jill, Jackie, Tamra, Sasha, Toni, Cherie, Michelle, Echo, Wee Tee, Naia, Katelyn, Noah, Jonah, Elijah,and Brewer. Of these 15, Echo (also known as Clovis), Wee Tee, and Sasha were not at Marine Life when Katrina hit. They had been on loan (rented) to other facilities, by MAP. Tessie was held in the States due to illness (Fungal Infection).  Despite her chronic illness she was sent to Atlantis on August 12 2006. Tessie lost her battle on December 31 2006. Official cause of death is listed as Zygomycosis. Despite Marine Life claiming they sold 17 dolphins to Atlantis, there is only record of 16. Marine Life did, in fact, own one other dolphin Cayenne, but she died after Katrina. 

  Sweet little Cayenne, her story has broken my heart. Rescued by IMMS, om March 3, 2004, when she was only about a year old, Cayenne was deemed Not fit to be returned to the wild. She was sent to Marine Life (Big surprise) to live in a tank with older females.  She rode out Katrina in a local swimming pool, and then was sent to Gulfarium in Fl. Sadly, on Oct 9 2005, just months after the storm Cayenne died. Her official cause of death: Presumed Pneumonia, Pathology Not Submitted. I may be overly emotional about little Cayenne, the fact that she was found all alone, mom no where to be found, covered in horrific sores. Nursed back to health and sentenced to life of slavery. Only to die a year later, and no one was worried enough to even find out why this little angel died. Pneumonia is always the easy way out for these facilities. And maybe she did have pneumonia, but it could have been so many other things. She was a baby, IMMS had est. her Date of birth to be Oct of 2003. Regardless to WHY she died, this young girl would still be nursing on her mom in the wild. It is  MY (Chasity) opinion that IMMS, MAP, Marine Life, Moby Solangi, and any and all Caregivers of Cayenne, failed her. These are the people who saved her life a year prior. The people who deemed her unfit to go "home" and proclaimed that they would take care of her, keep her safe. And although I do not (obviously) blame them for a hurricane destroying their facility, I blame them for being reckless with  Cayenne's and every single one of their animals lives.
  (NOTE: According to both the MMIR data base and Atlantis Resorts MMIR  11 out of the 17 dolphins that MAP owned were taken from the wild. Cayenne was the ONLY one that had been rescued due to beached or stranding. How is that for odds.)

This video was taken in Gulfport Ms at the Holiday Inn Beachfront Hotel. The hotel was located minutes from Marine Life.

Read Part III  Moby Solangi Part III IMMS 

1 comment:

  1. Chastity... Their story is So Sad....Thank you for telling their story since they are unable to do so. People, please listen: The innumerable sea animal deaths while under our "care" is inexcusable. Their living conditions are a mock cry from their natural surroundings. The reason that Entertainment Parks/Facilites do this, is driven by financial gain through public demand. Knowledge is a powerful tool. Get the Word Out... Wild animals belong in the wild. The only reason we should remove them from the wild is to save them if they cannot survive without our help. Rescue Rehab Facilities, Yes.... Inland Entertainment Parks... No